Bated Breath

Silence, uncomfortable and stifling. An old friend.

I’m in one of those moods. Even the chickens have ceased their infernal clucking out of some sort of misplaced deference (or they’re gone I’m not entirely sure which).

The imaginary crowd mills about, their little fires and tents quiet in the morning fog.

My whole imaginary world holds its breath in simpatico with me. By the end of this we’ll be quite blue in the face.

Anxiety fills me this morning. The chair shifts in sympathy with my agitated state.

Frostius, sensing my mood, offers me a cake. I refuse naturally, not desiring the spiral into sugar-fuelled madness his “gift” (note the quotation marks of dubiousness) would bring.

From whence does this fug of un-Captain-like behavior stem?

Simplicity itself to answer that my dear and entirely non-existent friend.

As you are no doubt unaware, I’m in the process of applying for a dream. Well the endgame of that application process actually.

To misquote one of my favorite and oft-unused phrases (courtesy of famed Austrian author, Stefan Zweig), “I’ve cast my infinitesimal self into the glowing mass” there to possibly accomplish the dream of once more living abroad and furthering myself, my education and my future career prospects.

Two, out of four applications have been submitted. Now’s the time for me to sit back relax and furiously click refresh on my email in the hopes that some hint of forward progress has appeared in my inbox within the last two seconds.

Let’s get a yes this time begad, let one of these schools say, “Yes, O Great and Merciful Captain of Chickens. We would love to take your money.”

So wish me luck, wish me well, wish for a fish in the wishing well (maybe not that last one because I’m not entirely sure what possible relevance a small swimming creature in a mythical well of wishes could have to this situation).

And because I’m nice and love it when people sing my praises here’s a bit more of that story that I’ve been working on that directly follows on the heels of what I posted here: http://captainofchickens.com/?p=231

Now read it and enjoy and leave me to my anxiety filled silence.

The Captain seemed to accept that as fact, while the still nameless officer sketched a smart salute.

“My apologies Captain Drowns, we had been informed that you had fallen.”

Captain Frubert Drowns slowly turned to regard the officer and said, “The enemy does so love to claim that. Unfortunately for them I am still here.”

The officer soaked this new information in before stammering, “With respect sir, I was dispatched to order your men to begin the assault.”

Drowns considered this for a moment before nodding sagely, “By all means then, lead the charge.”

A barely surpressed snort sounded from Corporal Tarless.

The officer stammered for a moment, his face paling, “B-b-b-b-but sir, I was told you were to lead the attack.”

“I will, don’t you worry. I’ll right behind you.”

Further protest and interest in the argument died stillborn as a sniper’s bullet took away the option for leadership from behind.

The officer, who’s name they never learned pitched onto his back with a neat little hole drilled through his forehead.

Droplets of blood flashed ruby red and melted into the mingled puddles of stagnant mud, water and shit.

Captain Drowns brief show of amiability drooped from his face as his dripping, mud covered mustaches twitched downwards into a scowl.

Lazily his rusted sword scraped from his sheath while his gathered company nervously limbered up.

“Let’s get it over with,” he said as the sword laconically stroked down.

No roars accompanied their charge, no bellowed appeals to Reason or the jabbering caterwaul hiding nerves behind the bright flash of bravado and steel. These men and women knew their business for what it was. Glory had no place here, courage was buried beneath layers of instinct that had kept them moving long past the “heroes” who had breathed their last gasping breaths in the early days of the campaign.

Disillusionment was the order of the day and all that mattered was your own survival and if your mates were lucky maybe a glimmer of afterthought for them as well.

Shells screamed in with greater frequency as Imperial gunners desperately sought to stop this ragged assault. It was only afterwards, when peace accords were assigned and dusty scribes in ill-lit libraries looked on this moment with their equally dusty words that the true, enormous tally of this singular massive assault came to light.

Fully five thousand men, women, and here and there intrepid or foolish children made the last-ditch assault on the eminently better prepared lines of God’s Own Empire.

 


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